All Stuffed Up: Rhinitis of Pregnancy and Allergies

I’m just finishing up 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The good news: I’ve pretty much left morning sickness behind. The bad news: my body immediately replaced it with rhinitis of pregnancy with a side of allergies.

I cannot breathe out of my nose and when it isn’t stuffed up it’s running like a hose. I’ve perfected the ol’ sneeze and grab: when you simultaneously sneeze, cover your mouth and grab your crotch to keep from wetting yourself.

Basically, I’m grabbing myself more than Madonna during a concert because I’m sneezing at least 50 times a day.

It’s pretty common to have rhinitis of pregnancy. In fact, according to pregnancyinfo.net up to 30% of pregnant women will have rhinitis to some degree.

It occurs because of the increased amounts of estrogen and progesterone in your system. The hormones can cause the membranes in your nose to become irritated and swell and create more mucus. That’s what causes the itching, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes.

The reason I think I have allergies as well is because my throat and ears are itchy. That, plus the excessive sneezing. Allergies are unpredictable during pregnancy. I don’t really have any when not pregnant but during my previous two pregnancies they kicked in as well. It’s common to discover you’re sensitive to allergens and other irritants that don’t bother you when you’re not expecting.

A quick search of the web will show you some experts say allergy medications are okay and others don’t. As for me, I’m steering clear no matter how miserable I feel. I’m more comfortable drinking the occasional glass of wine than popping pills.

If you’d rather not take allergy medication there are some other ways you can alleviate the discomfort caused by rhinitis and allergies. The best thing I’ve discovered, by far, has been Breathe Right nasal strips. They’re small adhesive bandage thingies that go over the bridge of your nose and actually physically pull open your nasal passages. This is perfect for someone suffering from inflamed membrane lining as is the case with rhinitis of pregnancy. I wear them every night and have felt so terrible that I often wear them throughout the day.

Also, keep a lot of pillows handy at night so that you’re closer to an upright position than laying down. It helps clear nasal passages.

Saline spray is another option. If you find you’re supremely irritated while at home take a quick, hot shower. Steam helps open your nose and the water helps wash away any pollens that may be causing the irritation.

Good luck to you. If you feel like I do you’ll need all the advice you can get.

Image source: istockphoto.com

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